The Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has extended a nationwide lockdown until May 3 as the country continues to grapple with coronavirus.
The move is hoped to prevent a second wave of infections as new cases and deaths finally begin to plateau.
18,849 people have died of Covid-19 in Italy, the highest death toll in the world.
It grounded to a halt a month ago and businesses had be hoping the end was in sight.
But in a news conference on Friday evening, Mr Conte told reporters he was prolonging restrictions that had been due to expire on April 13, while allowing a limited number of firms and shops to restart their activities.
‘There are clear indications that the restrictive measures are bearing fruit’, he said.
‘If we yield now we would risk, as our experts tell us, losing all the positive results we have conquered so far.’
After May 3, he said he hoped for a gradual restart of normal life, though strict health protocols will remain in place.
He warned that Italy cannot allow itself ‘a new explosion or the growth of the curve of infections’.
Tensions have mounted in Italy in the past week as citizens grow weary of lockdown. Officials have employed helicopters, drones and ramped up police checks to make sure residents aren’t slipping out of their homes.
Police stopped some 300,000 people on Thursday alone, issuing about 10,000 summonses to those who did not have a valid reason for travel.
Around the world, public health officials and religious leaders alike warned people against violating the lockdowns and social distancing rules over Easter.
Today, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar also announced the country’s lockdown would be extended by three weeks to prevent a second spike in infections.
It came after the head of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that a premature lifting of restrictions could ‘lead to a deadly resurgence.’
In the UK, officials have played down talk of relaxing the measures and warned people not to lower their guard over the bank holiday weekend.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Boris Johnson as he battles coronavirus, said we had not reached the peak yet, suggesting restrictive measures could be in place until May to fight off a surge in cases.
Today the new number of deaths surpassed Italy and Spain’s worst daily totals, with another 980 recorded in the past 24 hours. Almost 9,000 people have died of coronavirus in hospitals in the UK, while over 100,000 have died worldwide.
With the pandemic slamming economies worldwide, the head of the International Monetary Fund warned that the global economy is headed for the worst recession since the Depression.